GED Language Arts (RLA) : Effect of Literary Devices

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GED Language Arts (RLA)

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Effect Of Literary Devices

From Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, III.ii.13-33 (1599)

[This is a speech by Brutus to a crowd at Caesar’s funeral.]  


Romans, countrymen, and lovers! Hear me for my

cause, and be silent, that you may hear. Believe me

for mine honor, and have respect to mine honor, that

you may believe. Censure me in your wisdom, and

awake your senses, that you may the better judge.

If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of

Caesar's, to him I say that Brutus' love to Caesar

was no less than his. If then that friend demand

why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer:

Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved

Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living and

die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead to live

all free men? As Caesar loved me, I weep for him;

as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was

valiant, I honor him; but as he was ambitious, I

slew him. There is tears for his love, joy for his

fortune, honor for his valor, and death for his

ambition. Who is here so base that would be a

bondman? If any, speak, for him have I offended.

Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If

any, speak, for him have I offended. Who is here so

vile that will not love his country? If any, speak,

for him have I offended. I pause for a reply.

What is the purpose of the underlined phrase, "As Caesar loved me"?

Possible Answers:

To show the crowd the great sadness that he is experiencing at Caesar's death

To highlight the affectionate nature of Caesar

To attempt to convince the crowd of Brutus' affection for Caesar by using an appeal to emotion

To underscore the joy of having known Caesar

To justify Brutus' murder of Caesar by noting that he loved him even more than Caesar loved him

Correct answer:

To attempt to convince the crowd of Brutus' affection for Caesar by using an appeal to emotion


Notice the parallelism in the passage in question:

"(1) As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; (2) as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; (3) as he was valiant, I honor him; but (4) as he was ambitious, I slew him."

In 1–3, Brutus is trying to convince the crowd that he had affection for Caesar and even greatly honored him. He is appealing to their emotions in order to make them believe that he truly only meant to kill Caesar because of Caesar's ambition. It is as though he wants the crowd to say, "Well, he killed Caesar, but look at how he loved and respected him in so many ways. He must have been right and rational about this."

Example Question #2 : Effect Of Literary Devices

From “The Dead” in Dubliners by James Joyce (1915)

She was fast asleep.

Gabriel, leaning on his elbow, looked for a few moments unresentfully on her tangled hair and half-open mouth, listening to her deep-drawn breath. So she had had that romance in her life: a man had died for her sake. It hardly pained him now to think how poor a part he, her husband, had played in her life. He watched her while she slept as though he and she had never lived together as man and wife. His curious eyes rested long upon her face and on her hair: and, as he thought of what she must have been then, in that time of her first girlish beauty, a strange friendly pity for her entered his soul. He did no like to say even to himself that her face was no longer beautiful but he knew that it was no longer the face for which Michael Furey had braved death.

Perhaps she had not told him all the story. His eyes moved to the chair over which she had thrown some of her clothes. A petticoat string dangled to the floor. One boot stood upright, its limp upper fallen: the fellow of it lay upon its side. He wondered at his riot of emotions of an hour before. From what had it proceeded? From his aunt’s supper, from his own foolish speech, from the wine and dancing, the merry-making when saying good-night in the hall, the pleasure of the walk along the river in the snow. Poor Aunt Julia! She, too, would soon be a shade with the shade of Patrick Morkan and his horse. He had caught that haggard look upon her face for a moment when she was singing Arrayed for the Bridal. Soon, perhaps, he would be sitting in that same drawing-room, dressed in black, his silk hat on his knees. The blinds would be drawn down and Aunt Kate would be sitting beside him, crying and blowing her nose and telling him how Julia had died. He would cast about in his mind for some words that might console her, and would find only lame and useless ones. Yes, yes: that would happen very soon.

The air of the room chilled his shoulders. He stretched himself cautiously along under the sheets and lay down beside his wife. One by one they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. He thought of how she who lay beside him had locked in her heart for so many years that image of her lover’s eyes when he had told her that he did not wish to live.

Generous tears filled Gabriel’s eyes. He had never felt like that himself towards any woman but he knew that such a feeling must be love. The tears gathered more thickly in his eyes and in the partial darkness he imagined he saw the form of a young man standing under a dripping tree. Other forms were near. His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself which these dead had one time reared and lived in was dissolving and dwindling.

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

The juxtaposition of Michael Furey's death and Gabriel's imagined scenario of Aunt Julia's death shows __________.

Possible Answers:

the contrast between the foolish death of an over-eager youth versus the natural death of an old woman

the contrast between Gabriel's vengeful pleasure at the death of Michael Furey versus his genuine sadness at the death of his aunt

the futility of life

all life ends in death, regardless of how or when it arrives

the contrast between the death of the young and passionate versus the death of the old and withered

Correct answer:

the contrast between the death of the young and passionate versus the death of the old and withered


The first paragraph implies that Michael Furey died young and in the name of love, while Aunt Julia is old and Gabriel predicts that her death will come soon because "he had caught that haggard look upon her face."

Example Question #3 : Effect Of Literary Devices

1 About thirty years ago Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet's lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income. 2 All Huntingdon exclaimed on the greatness of the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself, allowed her to be at least three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it. 3 She had two sisters to be benefited by her elevation; and such of their acquaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as handsome as Miss Maria, did not scruple to predict their marrying with almost equal advantage. 4 But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them. 5 Miss Ward, at the end of half a dozen years, found herself obliged to be attached to the Rev. Mr. Norris, a friend of her brother-in-law, with scarcely any private fortune, and Miss Frances fared yet worse. 6 Miss Ward's match, indeed, when it came to the point, was not contemptible: Sir Thomas being happily able to give his friend an income in the living of Mansfield; and Mr. and Mrs. Norris began their career of conjugal felicity with very little less than a thousand a year. 7 But Miss Frances married, in the common phrase, to disoblige her family, and by fixing on a lieutenant of marines, without education, fortune, or connexions, did it very thoroughly. 8 She could hardly have made a more untoward choice.

What effect does the author’s use of roundabout language achieve in the passage?

Possible Answers:

It offers the reader an opportunity to compare historical and contemporary legal language

It demands that the reader be more critical of the characters

It allows the author to speak about serious social issues without causing offense

It intentionally confuses the reader

It allows the author to be frivolous and thereby endear herself to the reader

Correct answer:

It allows the author to speak about serious social issues without causing offense


In addition to introducing characters, this passage establishes that 19th-century English marriage was often a financial system that disadvantaged women. If the author had stated this idea outright, she might have risked offending her audience. Therefore, she couched her opinions in more roundabout, circumlocutory language.

Passage adapted from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814)

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